Jacob I have loved; Esau I have hated
(More from Romans 9)10 And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac 11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), 12 it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”The reference in purple is this here below from Genesis:
23 And the LORD said to her:And the reference in blue is here, from the opening chapter of Malachi:
Two nations are in your womb,
Two peoples shall be separated from your body;
One people shall be stronger than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger.” (Genesis 25)
1 The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi. 2 “I have loved you,” says the LORD. “Yet you say, ‘In what way have You loved us?’ Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” Says the LORD. “Yet Jacob I have loved; 3 But Esau I have hated, And laid waste his mountains and his heritage For the jackals of the wilderness.” 4 Even though Edom has said, “We have been impoverished, But we will return and build the desolate places,” Thus says the LORD of hosts: “They may build, but I will throw down; They shall be called the Territory of Wickedness, And the people against whom the LORD will have indignation forever (Malachi 1)What is Genesis 25 saying? It is talking about two nations. The nation that comes from the elder shall serve the nation that comes from the younger. Romans 9 is telling us that this was not because of anything that either of the fathers of these nations did, because they haven't done anything yet! (They were still in the womb!) But God, in His sovereign choice, chose to make Himself known through Jacob and his seed, rag-tag group that they, in some ways, ended up being. God chose Israel, not Edom. Jacob was conniving sometimes, but God had foreordained to reveal Himself through Jacob in spite of his character flaws. It was not because Jacob was such a great man, it was because of God's choice. Period.
(This is one of the great things about the Bible - isn't it? It is so honest about its characters - they are not exalted and their flaws are not covered over, but God shows how he uses them anyway. My husband, the Earnest Contender, covered this in a post. The Bible is unprejudiced.)
Now the Malachi passage - what is that saying? It is saying that God loved the people of Israel. This is the last book we have in the OT. This was written at a time far removed from Jacob and Essau. God says he favored these people of Jacob and purposed in his heart to show them favor in the their world from the get-go. He chose them over Edom - they were to be a light to the Gentiles, but they were not serving very well. They were not discharging their responsibilities faithfully. Yet "I have loved you." He says. He favored them for His revelation. And - what do you know? About 400 years after Malachi, the Messiah came from Jacob, even though they had been unfaithful. He was still born from Jacob, these people described in chapter 1 of Malachi.
Up to this point in Romans chapter 9, this is all about the nation of Israel and it's past purpose in God's plan and the fact that He chose them for no reason in and of themselves. Some of them are faithful even though many of them are not. But God is faithful. God is sovereign and has a purpose in election that is bigger than a relationship with individuals. He has a global purpose that He is executing.